Down here on the South Coast, the road cycling season has begun to "heat up" even while our brethren up north on the frozen tundra are still pedaling away on wind trainers in the basement. As witness to that, local cyclists are finding not just one but two organized rides each weekend (and sometimes even three). The days of February 16-17 are one such weekend, with the Humble Lions Bike Ride on Saturday the 16th and the Tri-County Hill Hopper on Sunday, February 17.
If you're one of a few thousand Houston-area cyclists training for the 2013 BP MS150 (April 20-21, 2013, is blocked out on your calendar, right?), then it's time to look ahead a few weeks to another recommended training ride. For February 17, that would be the Hill Hopper. But be forewarned: when they say "hill," the organizers mean it.
Riders will roll out of the village of Warrenton, Texas, beginning at 9:00 a.m on Sunday the 17th. Participants can pick from among three routes of (about) 20, 36 and 67 miles, with a 58-mile option on the longest. The organizers will perform their last sweep of the routes beginning at 3:00 p.m., so plan accordingly. Routes head east, toward Shelby and Rock House, and south toward Frelsburg and Fayetteville. Proceeds of the event benefit Camp LIFE, a weekend camp for area kids with disabilities.
Registration by mail or on-line is $30 per participant until February 8, after which it goes up to $35. Walk-up registration will be available at the start, cash or check only (no credit-cards). On-line registration is available at Active.com, or you can download a PDF of the registration form and mail it in. Riders registered by February 1 are guaranteed an official ride t-shirt. Route maps and directions are available on the website.
Details to remember: The Tri-County Hill Hopper is a BP MS 150 recommended training ride. As with all MS150 recommended rides, safety rules will be enforced: helmets are required, headphones and earbuds are prohibited. SAG patrols and staffed rest stops with refreshments and restroom facilities will be provided. This event will take place rain or shine.
If you plan to drive up Saturday and stay overnight, there's lodging and food in Round Top and a handful of B&B's in the area.
Getting there: The start line is approximately 100 miles from downtown Houston. Take US 290 past Brenham to the intersection with Texas 237. Head south, through Round Top, for about 11 miles, to the start line at the intersection with FM 954. From west Houston, it may be quicker to take I-10 to Columbus and follow TX 71 toward Austin. Google Maps is your friend.